Hoeven Meets with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, Discusses Iranian Nuclear Threat and Energy Security
BISMARCK, N.D. – Senator John Hoeven this week met in Jerusalem with high ranking Israeli leaders to discuss mutual security issues, including efforts to deter Iran from developing a nuclear weapon and strategies to increase U.S. and Israeli energy independence, specifically by reducing or eliminating their dependence on Middle Eastern oil. He also met with the Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority to discuss the status of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.
The American Israeli Education Foundation, which seeks to foster understanding between the United States and Israel, helped to organize the mission for Hoeven, who is a member of the U.S. Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on State Foreign Operations and Related Programs, as well as the U.S. Senate Energy Committee.
IRANIAN NUCLEAR THREAT, INTERNATIONAL SANCTIONS
Hoeven met with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, as well as leaders of the ruling Likud and opposition Kadima party, to discuss implementing stronger economic sanctions on Iran as that nation continues to pursue uranium enrichment activities with the intention of developing an atomic weapon.
Last year Hoeven cosponsored a bill in the U.S. Senate that would enhance existing economic sanctions and strengthen human rights-related provisions in earlier legislation, which he believes will be effective in deterring Iranian efforts to develop a nuclear weapon. He said in his visit with Netanyahu it came across clearly that the Israelis share the view that the sanctions must be implemented as aggressively as possible.
The Defense Authorization Bill, which passed last month with Hoeven’s support, includes a measure that imposes new sanctions on financial institutions dealing with Iran’s central bank. The administration, however, has threatened to delay enforcement of the sanctions, which Hoeven said will weaken the efficacy of the measure and it needs to be enforced. The sanctions affect both private and government-controlled banks – including central banks – but Hoeven said the president’s insistence that it delay implementation could allow Iran to make significant progress toward developing a nuclear weapon.
“Nations like Iran have historically used such deferrals to further harden their facilities, make technical advances and delay international inspections,” Hoeven said. “Sanctions may not stop them, but in order to be effective, they need to be implemented before Iran has time to exploit any delay. That’s certainly in the interest of the United States and the entire international community.”
INCREASED ENERGY INDEPENDENCE
As an adjunct to the Iranian issue, Hoeven and Netanyahu shared details of their respective countries’ work to eliminate dependence on Middle Eastern oil as a matter critical to the economic and national security of both nations. Hoeven told the prime minister that the United States has increased domestic and North American production of crude oil through developments underway in places like North Dakota, which now produces more than 500,000 barrels per day. The new Keystone XL pipeline would increase the amount of North American-sourced oil used in the United States to more than 80 percent.
The Senator sponsored legislation passed last month that will require the president to determine by Feb. 21 whether or not the Keystone XL project, which would carry oil from Canada to U.S. Gulf refineries, is in the national interest. Hoeven also delivered the National Republican Weekly Address Saturday, underscoring the importance of the Keystone pipeline to create jobs, help keep down the cost of energy for American consumers and businesses, grow the nation’s economy and reduce dependency on Middle Eastern oil.
Netanyahu detailed Israel’s efforts to develop natural gas offshore in the Mediterranean in an effort to enhance their nation’s domestic energy security. Israel is working with Noble Energy, an Oklahoma-based company that also has operations in North Dakota, to develop offshore gas recovery and gathering systems. The company has made a billion dollar investment in Israel and already has platforms in the Mediterranean. They are currently in the process of laying pipelines to deliver the product to Israel. Israel is also working to develop land-based shale recovery operations. Hoeven also met with representatives from Noble Energy working in Israel.
“World energy markets are clearly anxious over Iran’s recent belligerence in the Strait of Hormuz, through which one-third of the world’s seaborne oil is shipped,” Hoeven said. “Greater domestic energy independence is a matter of economic and national security for both the United States and Israel.”
ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN PEACE PROSPECTS
Hoeven also met with Salam Fayyad, Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority, for a briefing on the Palestinian perspective and to gain a better understanding of the challenges to the Palestinian-Israeli peace process. The Senator expressed his support for an ongoing dialogue between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
“The challenges to an agreement continue to be formidable, but it’s essential that any peace agreement include adequate security in the region,” Hoeven said.
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